The immature patient has had his day

The roles of doctor and patient in the future: What was the immature patient yesterday has long since changed. The one who just had to wait patiently and yield to the judgement of the only competent expert in white is no longer satisfied with this role. Or at least should not do it anymore. See below for counter-examples.

Steven Joffe from the University of Pennsylvania has just described in a pleasingly differentiated and clear article how the three factors of patient rights, available knowledge and direct-to-consumer tests have lastingly changed the doctor-patient relationship. He outlines how the immature patient comes to eye level. Joffe’s article deserves an urgent reading recommendation. It is hereby pronounced.

Three factors
  • Factor 1: Patient rights. For the first time ever, their formulation has led to the claim of patients to have their own opinion, their own decision and the corresponding information provided by the physician.
  • Factor 2: The Internet as a constantly growing source of medical knowledge.
  • Factor 3: The increasing availability of medical tests with scientific requirements directly for patients. We have already discussed this new role for laboratories with the associated business models on various occasions here and here. Joffe clearly emphasizes the impact of this development on the entire healthcare system.

For the sake of precision, we are talking here exclusively about the doctor-patient relationship between practicing physicians. The immature patient of the hospital is a similar but more complex subject. I will take up this point at a later date.

A contemporary role of the doctor

Joffe shows how, on the one hand, our traditional image of roles in health care is still very much alive. Here is the expert whose judgement is to be followed. There the receiving patient. On the other hand, Joffe demonstrates how these roles already lose their justification.

The contemporary and forward-looking role of doctors is therefore threefold:

  • The doctor as the patient’s advisor and health coach,
  • the gatekeeper for advanced medical knowledge and special testing, and
  • Finally, access to optimal follow-up services. That is, the medically necessary, although perhaps not directly required of the patient. Here, the doctor is the one who has an overview of the consequences of an illness and treatment. Who, on his own initiative, is committed to what is medically necessary – and in this way creates added value.

So much for the present.

Second opinion at Yahoo?

However, this present also includes this picture from a doctor’s office, which has been circulating on Twitter these days and has received thousands of approvals within a very short time:


The immature patient - Dr. Google must stay outside
The sign reads: “Patients who have already received their diagnosis via google are asked to obtain a second opinion not from us, but from yahoo.”


The reaction: several thousand likes, hundreds of comments along a line “Patients can be so annoying if they don’t trust the doctor’s diagnosis”. Yes, they are, at least for perceived half- and three-quarter gods in white. Is a doctor afraid of patients who want to take responsibility for themselves? In any case, he has difficulties with setting commas in the4 German language. But there is always something.

Those who hang up such signs in their practice deny their patients much more than just the ability to search the Internet for specific health information. With the reference to Yahoo, the poster looks like it did in the year 2000. The mentality behind it is much older; it goes back deep to the last century.

Counter-question: Who seriously wanted to recommend to a patient to rely exclusively on the knowledge that a single expert reproduces from his memory within a few minutes? With an effort of research, limited by the time that the health care system is currently paying.

A future-oriented role for the physician

Even more important from the point of view of futurology is the question of how to continue the series of trends and drivers:

Patient rights, available high-quality knowledge and B2C test procedures are followed at least by

  • Artificial intelligence in everyday use by doctor and patient,
  • an exponentially growing database in type and quantity,
  • large international players who are entering the healthcare market and claim a competent role here,
  • more and more: an interpretation of biology and medicine as information technology.

On this basis we then negotiate the roles between health seeker (ex-patient) and competent companion, supporter and initiator (ex-physician). The immature patient has had his day.


Beyond Verbal: The Voice Leads to Diagnosis

When the voice becomes an early warning system for serious diseases: A pointer to a technology that may not be entirely unique, but which is exceptional in any case. Yuval Mor developed it with his team at Beyond Verbal. This is where voice control takes on a whole new meaning in the healthcare of the future.

This is the approach: Beyond Verbal can show that specific severe diseases lead to characteristic patterns in the human voice. These include severe heart diseases, but also neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These patterns cannot be identified by human ears. Beyond Verbal has developed an algorithm that can detect these subtle changes with amazing precision. The special thing: The algorithm is able to hear these changes before the heart fails, before Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in the conventional way. Voice analysis therefore allows a much earlier intervention, permitting action instead of reaction. Which language someone speaks is, by the way, completely irrelevant for the analysis. The characteristic patterns occur in Mongolian as well as in Swiss German.

Yuval Mor was a speaker at the 2b AHEAD Future Congress 2018 with his topic and presented his project for discussion. The colleagues at 2b AHEAD have already put the video of his impulse online. It is available here.

Beyond Verbal - Yuval Mor

A matter of course, but always worth remembering: Beyond Verbal introduces one of the technologies into the healthcare of the future, which very concretely lead to a fundamental shift of knowledge. This is an effect that we are seeing again and again. It is particularly easy to show here: The algorithm generates knowledge that can lead to a considerable increase in well-being and well-being. The traditional players in the healthcare industry can only distinguish themselves by how well integrated and self-evidently they deal with this knowledge.

Please test it for yourself!

And to make it even more concrete: Beyond Verbal has made the app “Moodies” freely available in the app stores as a kind of by-product. It accesses the same algorithm and analyses the emotional state of the speaker within a few seconds. I now use this app regularly on keynotes, both to demonstrate the power of Artificial Intelligence, and as feedback of my own effect, simply to improve myself. I can only encourage you to try “Moodies” for yourself.

Digital diagnostics: Disruption does not start in harmlessness

Today, two tweets have rushing through my timeline. Both touch on the subject of digital diagnostics and they show an idiosyncratic, seemingly contradictory picture. Does digital diagnosis lead to better results – or a diagnosis by a human doctor? And from whom do we want to receive such a diagnosis?

Digital diagnosis as a life saver?

The Intelligent Health AI from Basel is bringing positive news, enthusiastic about the feasibility.

Digital diagnosis: AI can do

One could object: Where is the news? The fact that the diagnostic capability of halfway modern systems of artificial intelligence is superior to human expert knowledge should come as no surprise. This imbalance is well documented. Every oncologist, radiologist and probably almost every laboratory doctor will confirm this. Even if the ideas of the consequences probably differ considerably: The fact is indisputable.

Analog students at MIT?

Futurist Andrew McAfee paints a different but remarkable picture of his practice at the university:

Digital Diagnostics

Contrary to all reason, it seems that the next digital elite – nothing else is being trained here at MIT – is actually putting up with disadvantages. They opt for human diagnostics and not for digital diagnostics. He does not comment on the motives. Even if he did, this would hardly lead to a statistically reliable picture.

Three models of interpretation

Let us place the two impressions next to each other and interpret them together. Three patterns of interpretation seem plausible:

Interpretation 1: In case of doubt, technological fascination is always the solution for the others. Autonomous driving is as inspiring as it perfectly makes sense, if only one’s own steering wheel does remain. I call this the deficit model of technological disruption. The guiding principle is the fear of losing familiar solutions, services and features, despite all the technological fascination.

Interpretation 2: The time lag shows an apparent contradiction. This is the model of harmonization over time. Today, students reject what they will get used to over the coming years. At first glance, this is an obvious idea. At second glance deceptive: Those who allow themselves to be guided by this interpretation are in danger of covering up the disruptive character of innovation with harmony sauce.

Interpretation 3: In this juxtaposition we clearly see how one of the most important innovations in health care will take place. The model of the creation of meaning through innovation. A conventional diagnosis that does not involve life and death will – with good reason – be made and communicated by a human doctor in the foreseeable future. Even if an AI would actually be better, there is no real risk. However, when it comes to the threat of fatal diseases, AI offers a leap in quality; those who want to overcome this threat are less choosy when it comes to choosing the means. The main thing is: something works, even if it´s digital diagnostics.

Disruption does not begin with harmlessness

If this third approach prevails, we will see AI in use very soon. The triumph of digital diagnostics, however, will not begin in the harmless and risk-free, but – on the contrary – where it really counts: In the fight against life-threatening diseases. Ebola, malaria, rapid cancer will bring AI into the everyday life of healthcare before it also devotes itself to the fight against colds and lice infestation. Sometime later.

I tend, you will suspect, to the third interpretation. The most important innovation of healthcare of the future will begin with questions of life and death. But please, judge for yourself.